Trying to Make Peace with Sauvignon Blanc

It would not take a genius to figure out that I love wine. We are less than a week away from the thirteenth anniversary of this blog and I am closing in on my 3,000th post, the vast majority of which have at least a tangential connection with wine. So yeah, it is safe to say that I am into the stuff.

Except.

I really don’t like Sauvignon Blanc.*

*[ed. note: unless it comes from Sancerre, a small town in the Loire Valley of France which many argue makes the best Sauvignon in the world.]

If this were the only other choice, though?

It’s not that I hate the variety but I would choose a Bud Light over Sauvignon Blanc in most situations. And even though it is often touted as one of the six “noble grapes” I am really not a fan. In fact, Sauvignon Blanc comprises less than one percent of all the wine I currently have in my house and if I were to exclude samples, that drops to less than four tenths of a percent (I have a total of seven bottles, all of them, you guessed it, Sancerre).

As I continue to slog through my mound of samples (I am making progress! I am only six months behind at this point!), I noticed that I had amassed a fair number of bottles of Sauvignon Blanc and I decided to rip off the band-aid and taste a bunch of them in rapid succession.

Mid-way through the process, I discovered that my disdain was misplaced; it is not that I dislike the variety, I have a problem with bad Sauvignon Blanc. Happily, there were a few bottles in my sample pile that were quite tasty. Don’t get me wrong, I am not running to the store to stock up on Sauvignon Blanc but I might opt for one of these the next time the only other choice is from Anheuser-Busch.

2021 ARIDUS Sauvignon Blanc, Arizona: Retail $35. Under screw cap. 12g/l residual sugar (off-dry to medium sweet). Pale straw in the glass with lemon rind and lychee on this first-ever for me Arizonan wine. I will be completely honest, I was not ready for the sweetness of this wine. While it is far from cloying, it is certainly on the sweeter side of off-dry, and I am struggling with how I feel about that. There is good fruit on the palate, with a nice level of acidity, but I just wonder why they left it sweet (stuck fermentation?). While many will like this and my mother-in-law would drink the bejesus out of this wine, I am still not sure. And at thirty-five bucks? Very Good. 87 Points.

2020 Benziger Family Winery Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County, CA: Retail $16. Under screw cap. Light straw in the glass with lovely peach and pear aromas along with honeysuckle and acacia. The palate is quite rich and fruity with a weighty mouthfeel and tons of verve. Yowza. I have stated many times that Sauvignon Blanc is never my go-to wine, but I would only need one hand to count the number of SBs in this country that I would pick over this one. Excellent. 92 Points.

2020 Concha y Toro Sauvignon Blanc Casillero del Diablo Reserva, Casablanca Valley, Chile: Retail $12. Under screw cap. From one of the largest producers in the world, this wine has to be one of the larger bottlings of Sauvignon Blanc. Freshly cut grass with loads of citrus and tropical notes in the glass of this pale straw wine. The palate is loaded with fruit as well, but it seems to have morphed into more of a tree fruit (peach) along with the citrus. The nice level of acidity makes this an extremely quaffable wine, only the short nature of the finish is holding it back. Very Good. 88 Points. 

2021 Concha y Toro Sauvignon Blanc Gran Reserva, Colchagua Valley, Chile: Retail $16. Under screw cap. Pale straw in the glass. With intense, freshly cut grass, a bit of roasted almond, interestingly, and citrus rind (lemon and grapefruit). Quite tart on the palate, with plenty of citrus and a decided herbal aspect. The mineral aspect is even more present than the fruit, resulting in a rather austere wine. Interesting. I am not sure where to place this, but I am really digging the lasting finish. Very nice. Very Good. 89 Points.

2021 Viña Cono Sur Sauvignon Blanc Organic, San Antonio Valley, Chile: Retail $13. Under screw cap. Light straw in the glass with an evident green hue, the aromas consist mainly of tree fruit (under-ripe pear, peach), a bit of citrus (lemon), cut grass, and a hint of cat pee. The palate is quite tart and mineral, with plenty of fruit and an intense, albeit brief, finish. Very Good. 88 Points.

2021 Lucky Rock Wine Co. Sauvignon Blanc Country Cuvée, Sonoma County, CA:  Retail $17. Under screw cap. 80% Sonoma County (Russian River Valley) and 20% Lake County. Rather pale in the glass, barely a “straw” in color. Nice tree fruit (pear and peach), fresh-cut grass, a nice floral note, a bit of lemon rind, and, well, cat pee. The palate is initially quite fruity, followed by a luscious mouthfeel (15% aged four months in used French oak), and a wave of tartness. This is the second fantastic SB that I have tasted in as many days. Either I am coming around to the variety or the wines are getting better. I am going with door #2. Excellent. 91 Points.

2021 Purple Star Sauvignon Blanc, Yakima Valley, WA: Retail $20. Under screw cap. It is a bit hard for me to believe, but I tasted my first Purple Star Sauvignon Blanc nearly ten years ago. Since then, I would like to think I have become friends with the Purple Star team of Amy and Kyle Johnson, but that has nothing to do with my thoughts on their wines. In short: I love the wines. Kyle gives off a bit of an absent-minded professor vibe while producing really fantastic wines. Amy is there to fill in the blanks and “stay on brand” which makes them truly a fantastic pair. This pale straw Sauvignon Blanc is a bit grassy on the nose (with the slightest hint of cat pee), but quite tart and fruity on the palate. Vibrant, engaging, and still quite focused, this should be a benchmark for the variety in Washington. Excellent. 91 Points.

2021 Titus Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $36. Heavy Bottle. 96% Sauvignon Blanc, 4% Viognier. Under cork. Even though as recently as ten years ago it seemed much more prevalent, Napa Sauvignon Blanc is getting harder to come by, which is too bad since I feel some of the best SB in the country comes from its premier appellation. I get it. When Napa Cabernet Sauvignon can fetch 5 to 10 times (or more) what its parental grape commands, why wouldn’t one follow the money? Well, this wine is delightful (despite its heavy bottle) and I hope that it, and wines like it, continue to be made in the Valley. Pale straw in the glass with white peach, lemon mist, white rose, and a bit of an herbal note (basil) on the nose. The palate is rich, creamy, and full (four months in neutral oak), but also exhibits a zingy acidity and layers of depth and complexity. Please don’t let this disappear, and that comes from a non-SB lover. Excellent. 92 Points.

About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
This entry was posted in Sauvignon Blanc, Wine and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Trying to Make Peace with Sauvignon Blanc

  1. Funny that’s one of my favorites lol.

    Like

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